The right has long championed for total free market rule in the U.S. In their mind the federal government should be nothing more than a payroll department, doling out the checks to these private entities.
While free market works great in some places, there are certain elements of society where it is a disaster. One such area would be the prison system, as noted here by Think Progress:
Yesterday, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a report chronicling the political strategies of private prison companies “working to make money through harsh policies and longer sentences.” The report’s authors note that while the total number of people in prison increased less than 16 percent, the number of people held in private federal and state facilities increased by 120 and 33 percent, correspondingly. Government spending on corrections has soared since 1997 by 72 percent, up to $74 billion in 2007. And the private prison industry has raked in tremendous profits. Last year the two largest private prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group — made over $2.9 billion in revenue.
So we have these private prisons doing whatever they can to make more money. Really, they aren't to blame; that is free market and what business should do. The problem is that our country shouldn't be enabling such an industry.
Just take a minute to think about this. The jail/business is doing whatever it can to increase revenue, including trying anything to keep people incarcerated longer. That means they are doing it for money. Where is that money coming from? Well that would be you and me, through taxes. How will we ever get government spending under control with such a system in place?